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Investing in Soybeans and Soybean Products through Future Markets

Soybeans are a vital crop for the world economy, used for everything from poultry feedstock to the creation of vegetable oil. You can invest in soybeans themselves, soybean oil, and soybean meal through futures market trading.

Although most soybeans are used for the extraction of soybean oil (used as vegetable oil for culinary purposes) and soybean meal (used primarily as an agricultural feedstock), whole soybeans are also a tradable commodity. Soybeans are edible, and if you’ve ever gone to a sushi restaurant, you may have been offered soybeans as appetizers, under the Japanese name edamame.

The United States dominates the soybean market, accounting for more than 50 percent of total global production. Brazil is a distant second, with about 20 percent of the market. The crop in the United States begins in September, and the production of soybeans is cyclical.

The most direct way for you to trade soybeans is through the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) soybean futures contract:

  • Contract ticker symbol: S

  • Electronic ticker: ZS

  • Contract size: 5,000 bushels

  • Underlying commodity: Premium No. 1, No. 2, and No. 3 yellow soybean bushels

  • Price fluctuation: $0.0025/bushel ($12.50 per contract)

  • Trading hours: 9:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. open outcry; 6:31 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. electronic (Chicago Time)

  • Trading months: January, March, May, July, August, September, November

In addition to soybeans, you can also invest in soybean oil and soybean meal. Soybean oil, more commonly known as vegetable oil, is an extract of soybeans. Soybean meal is another extract of soybeans that is a high protein, high energy-content food used primarily as a feedstock for cattle, hogs, and poultry.

Soybean oil is the most widely used culinary oil in the United States and around the world, partly because of its healthy, nutritional characteristics. Soybean oil is also becoming an increasingly popular additive in alternative energy sources technology, such as biodiesel.

If you want to trade soybean oil, you need to go through the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT), which offers the standard soybean oil contract. Here is the contract information:

  • Contract ticker symbol: BO

  • Electronic ticker: ZL

  • Contract size: 60,000 pounds

  • Underlying commodity: Premium crude soybean oil

  • Price fluctuation: $0.0001/pound ($6.00 per contract)

  • Trading hours: 9:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. open outcry, 6:31 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. electronic (Chicago Time)

  • Trading months: January, March, May, July, August, September, October, December

To invest in soybean meal, you can trade the soybean meal futures contract on the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT). Here is the information to help you get started trading this contract:

  • Contract ticker symbol: SM

  • Electronic ticker: ZM

  • Contract size: 100 tons

  • Underlying commodity: 48% protein soybean meal

  • Price fluctuation: $0.10/ton ($10.00 per contract)

  • Trading hours: 9:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. open outcry; 6:31 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. electronic (Chicago Time)

  • Trading months: January, March, May, July, August, September, October, December

To get more background information on the soybean industry, check out these resources on the Web:

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